Monthly Archives: February 2014

American Education February, 2014 — Post by Michael J. Findley

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This is a never ending topic. It has basically two parts; the problem and the solution.

The Problem

I posted a new study with similar result to studies for the last forty years. This latest study said that only 74% of 2200 Americans surveyed know the earth revolves around the sun.

http://phys.org/news/2014-02-americans-unaware-earth-circles-sun.html

While the Detroit metropolitan area is the worst in the country, it is reported that they have produced 500,000 functionally illiterate high school graduates. Exact numbers are difficult to verify, because no one wants to know exactly how bad the problem is. But there is universal agreement that nationally there are millions of High School graduates who are functionally illiterate.

The issue is discipline. One hundred years ago a student was required to demonstrate an adequate grasp of the academic material in order to graduate from high school and receive a high school diploma. Yes, there was no molecular biology, computer science, nuclear physics, or many other academic areas of knowledge. But college entrance exams required essays in three languages, one modern (Italian, Spanish, French or German), one ancient (Latin or Greek) and your native language (usually English). Mastery of Trigonometry was required to enter high school.

The important point is that when students were given an assignment, they were graded on their mastery of that material. If they did not demonstrate an adequate grasp of the material, they did not pass the course. Beginning in the 1950s students were promoted who failed to grasp the material. The result today is college students taking remedial English who can neither read nor write their own language.

The entire problem is the inability to enforce discipline. Students who consistently disrupt a class must be removed from the class. Students who refuse to do the work should not be given passing grades.

The Solution

Liberals constantly says that there are a number of problems and every one of them requires more money, time, and government intervention. Some examples of liberal solutions are increased teacher pay to attract better qualified teachers, build better buildings, or to maintain smaller class size.

Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of Education, Dr. William Bennett, did a cost/benefit analysis of Illinois schools when he was in charge of the Illinois school system. While there are many factors involved, he found, as a general rule, the schools which spent the least per student had the highest standardized test scores and the schools which spent the most per student had the worst standardized test scores. Before continuing, Dr. Bennett points out two important factors.

First, there is more to an education than just test scores. Some of the poorest rural schools had little or no extracurricular activities such as music, field trips, sports or outside speakers. So they were losing out in areas that do not show up in test scores.

Second, there is a massive gap in property values between the poorest rural school districts and the wealthiest in the state of Illinois. A school in the wealthiest areas of Chicago might need to spend three times as much money per student as a poor rural district to get the same quality education.

But this means little or nothing to an average parent. Parents in the United States have only three realistic options; the public schools, private schools, and homeschooling. While none of these are easy choices and there are always exceptions to every rule, the rule is the public schools are a poor choice. Private schools are expensive and often offer little improvement over public schools because effective discipline is illegal. Once again, there are some outstanding exceptions, but private schools are not a viable alternative for the average family.

This leaves homeschooling. Homeschooling is very difficult. But the results are outstanding. While homeschoolers can fail just like anyone else, the average homeschooled student will score near the 90th percentile in every area of standardized tests.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/aug/30/home-schooling-outstanding-results-national-tests/

Objecting to homeschooling on the basis that students are not socialized is simply based on ignorance. Socialization might not be all that desirable anyway. “Based on their findings, Bonnie Fisher and her colleagues estimate that the women at a college that has 10,000 female students could experience more than 350 rapes a year.”

National Institute of Justice. https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/182369.pdf

These are only reported rapes. Rape is a widely underreported crime. And this does not include other types of assaults or crimes such as robberies.

Once again, there are notable exceptions, but for the average family, homeschooling is the most crime-free option available. Homeschoolers produce plays, form bands, participate in sports (usually individual sports such as swimming, gymnastics or martial arts). They are often introduced early to a work environment. They often contribute to family planning and budgeting.

Homeschooling is neither ideal nor an answer to all problems. But it is a vastly superior option to the government schools.

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Filed under Current Issues, Politics, Education, History

KDP Select Versus EReader News Today — Post by Mary C. Findley

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This is a very informal and unprofessional comparison of Amazon’s KDP Select and the bargain book placement on Ereader News Today.  

I published an ebook In October of 2012 called A Dodge, a Twist, and a Tobacconist. My first problem was how to categorize it. It is fiction, and is a decidedly Christian book. It also features characters from classic authors like Dickens, Alcott, Kipling, and others. So I call it a Literary Tribute, but it also falls into a category that is unusual for Christian books. That category is Steampunk. At the time, Amazon didn’t have a Steampunk category, so I put it down as sci fi and Christian adventure, basically. I also enrolled it in Amazon’s KDP Select program.

That means I got 5 days to promote it free, plus I also produced an illustrated version of the same book and offered that free as well. So I had 10 free days between the two books during about 105 days (I put the illustrated version out about 2 weeks after the plain version.)

On the free days, I got a total of about 1500 downloads of the book. I also now have 17 reviews. I have been told the main reason for doing free days is to get reviews but most have come quite a long time after the books were free. I know that people load free books onto their Kindles and forget about them. I do that too. But I still was a bit disappointed in the results for having the books in the KDP select program. Blame it on the genre or whatever circumstances, but I elected not to continue in Select and submitted them to Smashwords for distrbution as soon as the 90 day periods were up.

Since that experiment I have put the plain version on sale for 99 cents a couple of times, and it has sold an average of 4-5 a month. Since it is in a fairly niche category (Steampunk is now an option, and it was still under Christian Adventure, it would show up in the top 100 for its category about every other month. I thought that was pretty good, considering a lot of the time, when I tell people, “I am writing a Steampunk series,” they say, “What’s Steampunk?”

I had been hearing for some time that people were getting their books placed on Ereader News Today, or ENT. That’s a site that has a very large following of people looking for free or 99 cent books. They invite authors to submit books for possible listing. As soon as I had 10 reviews averaging 4-5 stars (that’s a requirement) I started submitting the book to the site requesting to be listed.

Author friends all around me seemed to be getting theirs listed without too much delay, and they got some great results. But three email requests and about 8 months later, I was still waiting. I had been submitting the book as SciFi, and that seemed not to be working, so I tried Christian Fiction, and that finally worked. So I had my day on the site February 11 of this year.

Just before the book went up on the site, I changed a category to try to capitalize on the book’s inspirational character. But imagine my surprise when it started to show up in the top 100 of the category Metaphysics and Visionary. Wow. Where did that come from? Here’s an image of stats fairly late in the day. I missed the one where it pushed into the top 4500 in the store.

dodge 1 1 and 4 in scifi categories

It got up to #1 in two Science Fiction rankings, and #3 in that Metaphysical category. Today, two days later, it’s still on three top 100 rankings, though it’s slipping a bit, but I’m still pleased.

Some of my author friends said when their book was on the site they got 300 or more sales, and continued in the hundreds afterward for at least a few days. Now it’s time for a reality check. My sales for the month of February for that book  total, if Amazon is up to date, 54. So it was a failure, you ask? I don’t think so. As I said, it’s a very niche genre. I’m waiting to see if there is review fallout over those odd category rankings. At one point it was about #7 in the top 100 of a nonfiction inspirational category. Oops. It’s not nonfiction. From selling at most 5 a month, I have gone to selling over 50 a month. 10 times the sales. So it seems to me that that’s at least respectable. And it’s continuing to sell, when it hadn’t been at all for the last couple of months. Visibility on the ENT site and high rankings on Amazon seem to have done it some good. This is an image from this afternoon, two days and a bit later.

dodge 2 13 2014 rankings

If your book is priced at 99 cents, Ereader News will bill you 25% of copies sold on the day it’s featured. Amazon charges you more than that just to sell it on their site anytime. When your book is free under the KDP program, you have to go around to the hundred or so sites that promote free books and notify them yourself. All Ereader News today asks is that you share and tweet their site link for your book, and that you like, and ask others to like, the post on their facebook page. It’s certainly a lot less work, and you are still getting some money for the book, rather than the nothing you get on KDP Select free days.

So how did I feel about getting to number 1 in Steampunk, and about 4500 in the whole Kindle store with a book that is about as far from Contemporary Romance (the easiest genre to get people to buy) as you can get? Giddy. Excited. Happy.

But more importantly, I hope we extended our reach. That’s what we really hope to do with all our books. More than fifty people now own one of our books who didn’t before. We even sold a couple of print copies, and we almost never sell any of those.

In the back of that book are small samples of all our books, and a link to our blog. They can read more about us, and understand our purpose, which is “speaking the truth in love.”

We want to reach more people with the message of the authority of God’s Word, and our “tough but you need it” perspectives on education, current events, and biblical teaching. We want them to know that we have books for almost everybody’s taste — historical fiction, sci-fi, homeschool curriculum, issues nonfiction, illustrated. There’s a bit of romance, a bit of mystery, and books for all ages.

I don’t feel like I did the work in this endeavor. I wrote the book, but that was a year and a half ago. I didn’t exhaust myself submitting to a ton of sites (KDP), spend a ton of money (most paid advertising), or obsessively check my sales and stats all day. (Well, maybe I did do those last two.) I was happy when I shared the stats and people said they were going to check out the book. I hope people like my book and I get good reviews.

Most of all, I hope this lets us have a little bigger opportunity to reach people with a message I think is very needed. God loves the unlovely. God can save anybody. Evil doesn’t have to overcome good. People can come from all kinds of backgrounds. Orphans on the streets, servants, princes, cowgirls, merchants, jungle trackers — those are the kinds of people who came together in A Dodge, a Twist, and a Tobacconist to form the Alexander Legacy Company. And God started a great work through them to try to free slaves and overcome slavers. Here’s hoping this is also just the beginning of Findley Family Video’s work to bring a message that God frees people from sin, all kinds of people, and that we don’t have to lose the fight for our country, for our freedom, and for men’s souls.

Don’t forget, the CIA Blog Hop “Love Is … ” is still going on. You can comment and receive a copy of Hope and the Knight of the Black Lion here on our blog. Or you can win a bunch of books by good authors over there. Hop, hop, hop!

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Only 2 More Days in the CIA “Love Is … ” Bloghop! — Post by Mary C. Findley

cia hop

Click the graphic to visit all the authors’ blogs. Hop, hop!

Remember, if you comment on my blog here, you can receive a copy of Hope and the Knight of the Black Lion, free. If you are having trouble commenting, drop me an email at findleymjmc@gmail.com, make your comment, and let me know what format you would like. One of our fellow hopping authors, Samantha Fury, said this:

“Mary, thanks for being one of my Angels at Christian Indie Authors, and Happy Valentines day to you and yours. This book sounds like your MC has two valentines to chose from.
“… a strange, nameless knight who pledges his aid, and the man who wants to kill her.
I think if I was her I would take the Knight over the guy that wants to EEEK kill her oh my.”

Samantha has the Street Justice series of Crime Romances, and as Samantha Lovern she has Maid For Martin, which I have read, and I think you’ll find very romantic. Here’s her blog. http://samanthafury-authorsden.blogspot.com/

Krystine Kercher is another author friend who commented on the story, and hers got through. Here’s her blog so you can check out her books. She has the Legends of Astarkand series, and also designs her own book covers. http://krystinekercher.com/love-is-cia-blog-hop/

“I dropped by to say hi and offer you best wishes for a good blog hop! I love the way your cover turned out… Hope looks like a really neat story, Mary! Now I’m very curious to find out which man is which!”

Ruthie Madison has her books here: http://madisonbook.blogspot.com/2014/02/cia-blog-hop-love-is.html, including The Past Hunter. She said, “Hi, Mary! I still haven’t read your sample, but this one sounds interesting! Good luck on your blog!”

Hope’s two Valentines are not the bad guy and the good guy, though. One is Robert, the handsome young earl’s son who wants her, and doesn’t necessarily want to wait for marriage. The other is her missing cousin Richard, a much older man who went to the Crusades almost twenty years ago after disgracing the family name. “Hope” is a recurring theme in the story, as well as the heroine’s name. She really hopes Richard never comes back.

The mysterious knight, who lets her call him Sir Chris, starts to capture her attention, though. He is resolved to help her find her missing family and swears to protect her from Hugo Brun de March, the disgraced French knight the earl protects. Sir Chris alternates between strength almost like Samson and a weakness he won’t explain. Hope doesn’t know if she can trust him to be her true knight, but she has no one else, when even Robert thinks she is mad for claiming that Hugo Brun attacked her home. Please check the book out, and comment if you’d like a copy.

You can find a free sample of Hope and the Knight of the Black Lion in this short story, Home to my Father: A Knight’s Diary”. Hope reads these excerpts from a Crusader’s diary in the course of the novel. Click the image to see the book on Amazon.

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Bill Nye, Ken Ham Debate February 4, 2014 — Post by Michael J. Findley

Bill Nye vs Ken Ham debate

The debate, for those who did not watch it, took over 2 1/2 hours. The format was two brief opening statements, followed by a thirty minute statement by each man. Tom Forman from CNN was the moderator. The entire debate was very civil and Tom Forman did a very professional job. The debate is available on Youtube, http://youtu.be/_04S0fYU7FI
or http://debatelive.org/ 
After the 30-minute opening speeches, each man had a five-minute rebuttal speech. These were followed by written questions from the audience, alternating evenly between the men. They each had 2 minutes followed by a one minute response from the other man. At the end there was one question directed to both men, so they each had two minutes. Then each man had a closing statement. Ken Ham won a coin toss and went first. Bill Nye closed the debate.

The debatelive.org site has a link in the lower right corner to Answers In Genesis articles. These articles answer most of the technical questions Bill Nye brought up during the debate.

Bill Lovegrove’s blog http://pilgrimworks.com/blog/?p=128 has a much briefer point-by-point refutation of Bill Nye’s comments from his thirty-minute opening comments. It is in laymen’s terminology and we highly recommend it.

My comments are not going to cover the same ground these other people covered.

1) Answers in Genesis has a page of positions creationists should not use because it makes the person using the fallacious argument look foolish. Bill Nye hammered on “what Ken Ham believes”, attempting to make creationism some kind of Ken Ham cult. He opened with such a statement. He closed with such a statement and he repeated this kind of nonsense throughout the debate. He should learn from Answers in Genesis that these comments simply make Bill Nye appear foolish. Creationists follow Jesus Christ and the Word of God. While we are thankful for the ministry of Ken Ham, Ken Ham has nothing to do with what we believe.

2) Ken Ham correctly pointed out, from his opening statement to his closing statement and everything in between, that the argument is entirely about two different belief systems. He constantly used the terms operational science and historical science. That is, science as used by engineering to make things contrasted with science attempting to explain the past with naturalism. He clearly pointed out the bias against any belief in the supernatural. I personally do not like the terms operational and historical science. What is now condemned by people like Bill Nye is the historic, classic position of science and clearly defined by men such as Isaac Newton, Maxwell, Galileo and Albert Einstein. The modern vision of naturalism in science to exclude God or any form of the supernatural is based in the public mind on Karl Popper’s concept of falsification. So Creationism is actually historic or classic science and Bill Nye represents moral relativism or naturalism. It can also be called Secular Humanism.

3) Bill Nye desperately attempted to divide faith/religion/ belief from science. He constantly attempted to claim that he could accept the billions of religious people worldwide as long as they kept their religion separate from, in Bill Nye’s thinking, “the real world of science.”

4) While Bill Nye never used the term religion to describe his naturalistic view of science, he clearly understood that it is supported by taxation and government mandates. He repeatedly attempted to deny the religious aspects of his belief system and insisted that we must continue to support a belief in deep time and evolution to continue to advance in technology. The truth is just the opposite, as Ken Ham repeatedly pointed out. People who reject the consequences of naturalism are the inventors who improve our lives for the Glory of God and the benefit of mankind.

5) One of the most interesting comments Bill Nye repeated throughout the debate was his insistence on using phrases such as “you people here in Kentucky.” It is difficult to know whether he was simply belittling and demeaning the audience or if Bill Nye was so ignorant that he failed to grasp that there was a worldwide audience in the millions. While I certainly do not have access to the exact numbers, it is possible that this was Bill Nye’s largest audience ever for a single broadcast.

6) Ken Ham used videos of accomplished scientists who are also Creationists. He repeatedly referred to many more accomplished scientists who are also Creationists. Yet in spite of this well-documented evidence, Bill Nye repeated throughout the debate that Creationism was not science.

7) Ken Ham very early in the debate presented a list of predictions Creationists made. Each prediction was not believed at the time it was made, yet has proven to be true. One example is the 19th century evolutionary belief that humanity was divided into five races. The Bible teaches that we are all descendants from Adam and Noah, therefore equal. That prediction has certainly proved to be true. Yet Bill Nye throughout the debate and in his closing statement continued making the false accusation that Creationists do not make valid predictions.

The debate closed with Bill Nye claiming that he could be convinced if Creationists would simply “show him the evidence.” The truth is that evidence which Bill Nye ignored was presented throughout the debate. The evidence which Bill Nye claims would convince him exists. It was presented to him and he ignores it.
The issue is not evidence, but what you choose to believe.

Image is from the official debate promotional graphics.

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What Have We Been Up To at Findley Family Video Publications? — Post by Mary C. Findley

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Michael and I have been working on Book Three of the Conflict of the Ages series, “They Deliberately Forgot: The Flood and the Ice Age”. We have had some scientific vetting done by Creation Ministries International and also some advice and editing by Nat Davis of Davis Professionals. We suddenly realized, however, that we really have a good bit of repetition in the teachers’ manuals and introductory materials, so we have decided to combine the teachers’ manuals for books 1-3 into one book. So, it will take a little longer.

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We have also been getting some great reviews on our already existing books.  Here’s one for COA 1: The Scientific History of Origins

5.0 out of 5 stars Creation 101 September 4, 2013
By Forestport
Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase
Exceptionally well researched and superbly informative as an overview on God’s hand in creation in contrast to the myths and presuppositions of unsound science. You don’t want to miss some of the new revelations concerning Mt. Saint Helen’s. Eye opening, logical, and informative. This should be required reading for every college bound teenager who will certainly face humanism in community college or universities on an unpretentious level to the point of educational absurdity. This runs the gamut on the critical points that show intelligent design exist from the proximity of the sun, level of salt, and the structure of our DNA. Enough said. I can’t wait to dive into volume two.

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Here’s one for Antidisestablishmentarianism, from Goodreads:

(Five Stars) “As one who was duped by the public schools of the 1950s, this book hits me hard. The lies of society were the main reason I dropped out in the late 1960s. The results of those lies are seen in our modern self-centered, sin-driven culture of rebellion.
This book will give you all the ammunition you need to get yourself straightened out and those you know and love. I recommend you get it and read it. Just the footnotes are worth the price of the book. They worked hard and gave us their research. You need to read this book.” Goodreads David Bergsland

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We are also doing some promotion and we hope you’ll support sites that have been kind enough to feature us and our books. Today A Dodge, a Twist, and a Tobacconist is featured on EReader News Today at 99 cents. Hope you’ll scroll down below the “Book of the Day”, to the “Bargain Books”, and you’ll see Dodge. http://ereadernewstoday.com/ 

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We were also featured Authors on the Crossreads site, a wonderful place to find Christian books. Check it out! http://click.trwv.net/disp/GOMN28BHS3C7HI980SQ32V9IE/461856837

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And don’t forget! Please visit the CIA “Love Is … ” Bloghop! Lots of authors, great books, prizes, and Hope and the Knight of the Black Lion giveaways for comments and the Illustrated version is part of the Grand Prize Package! Click the image above to check out that contest!

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The CIA Bloghop and an Excerpt from Hope and the Knight of the Black Lion — Post by Mary C. Findley

1240552_618358774879607_1754604280_nClick the image above to visit the CIA “Love Is … ” Bloghop.

Be sure to check out the CIA bloghop and explore the different kinds of love — romance, love for family, and love for God, featured there. If you would like to win a copy of my YA Historical Suspense Hope and the Knight of the Black Lion, please comment here letting me know why the book appeals to you. If you would like to win a copy of the Illuminated version, illustrated like a Medieval Manuscript, hop on over to the main bloghop site and answer one of the questions posted there to enter.

Click the images below to see the books on Amazon.

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Here’s a snippet from the story to whet your appetite.

“How dare you take my prisoner, Lord Godwin?” demanded the earl.
“It is in my heart that thou hast condemned this man unjustly, Earl,” growled Lord Godwin. “I wish to question him myself. Tell thy men to stand off.”
“You cannot let ‘im do this, mah lord,” snarled Hugo Brun. “You ‘ave the killer of John of Colchester in your ‘ands.”
“We will speak of this later,” Lord Godwin said icily. “I will take this knight to a place where he can be tended. You have most cruelly overstepped your authority, Earl. You knew the tribunal was assembling to look into this case and yet you went ahead to examine this man without our leave or knowledge.”
“He shall not leave,” the earl exclaimed. “You cannot take so much upon yourself, Lord Godwin, to defy my orders in my own castle.”
“Father, I have helped them,” Robert said. The earl noticed him for the first time. “Have you not considered that in all that has happened we have only Sir Hugo Brun’s word of this knight’s guilt? Lady Hope is not mad or possessed, and she tells a different tale. Perhaps we are being too hasty.”
“You are my son, and you will obey my commands,” the earl growled.
“I will not permit you to return the man to the dungeon, father,” Robert said. “I do not think he is guilty. I have heard him speak – He cannot have burned Colchester.”
“Indeed?” sneered the earl. “You have learned in a moment’s time what I could not get from him in half an hour of questioning? I will deal with you in private. The knight stays here. Godwin, your men will lay down their arms and surrender the prisoner.”
Lord Godwin drew himself up to his full height. “I will have him taken to my chambers and there my wife will care for him,” he said. “My own guards will see that he does not escape. I will offer myself as surety for him. Put me in the dungeon in his place.”
“So be it, then,” the earl said with a cruel smile. “Let it be as Lord Godwin has said. He came in under your emblem, after all. Perhaps it is fitting.”
“You dare accuse me –?” Lord Godwin roared.
“My men will take you now, my lord,” the earl snapped. “Robert, come with me.”
“Oh, my lord, must it be so?” I gasped as the earl’s men took Lord Godwin by the arms.
“Take care of your knight, Lady Hope,” he said calmly. “Tell my lady what has happened. She will know what to do.” The earl stepped up and took Robert roughly away.

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Beginning Anew — New Release Guest Post by Paula Rose Michelson

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Beginning Anew: The Naomi Chronicles, Book One

Naomi and Chaz know that miracles really do happen, for at a friend’s wedding they reaffirmed their love and are Beginning Anew! Yet there are consequences that the couple must face. Will Chaz love and protect his wife? Will Naomi learn to trust Chaz? Find out in the first novel of Paula Rose Michelson’s four-book saga, The Naomi Chronicles.

Previously, in Book 2 of Casa de Naomi: The House of Blessing, Naomi’s journey from pain to faith where she dealt with her husband’s rejection of her, and Chaz discovered that secrets were kept from him, and began his own journey of discovery that enthralled readers. While their friends planned to use Nicco and Lucinda’s wedding to bring Chaz and Naomi together again, God had His hand on this star-crossed couple.

Before that, Book 1 of Casa de Naomi: The House of Blessing let readers experience Naomi’s journey from adolescence to womanhood, from frightened isolation to heiress with a mission, and responsibility many would shirk placed upon her shoulders, and kept them guessing especially when they realized that Naomi guarded two secrets. When Naomi married and fell in love with Chaz, she decided to tell him about herself. Before she could, Lola, a teenager she rescued from immigration, revealed her secrets. Hearing Chaz’s hate-filled words, and seeing many in Spanish Harlem turn away from her, Naomi fled.

Paula Rose Michelson is the wife of Lutheran Pastor, and Chosen People Ministries field Missionary, Ron Michelson. This Messianic author of faith books founded LAMB Ministries, which helps women recover from trauma and abuse through the effective use of Scripture and prayer. She asked God to give her a unique work, and while praying about the lost tribes of Israel, she believed the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) called her to write about the hidden Jews. She wrote the Casa de Naomi: The House of Blessing and The Naomi Chronicles Books because of her heart response to that commission.

 Beginning Anew: The Naomi Chronicles, Book One, Sales Links:

 CreateSpace: https://www.createspace.com/4238774

Kindle: http://amzn.to/1fbWEj8

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/401017

Smashwords: About the Author: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/PaulaWordsmith

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